Friday, November 9, 2007

Nari Jibon Project, change-making, and justice

I would rather write about:

The powerful and wonderful girls & women at the Nari Jibon Project who are learning alternative skills such as literacy in Bangla, tailoring rather than sewing, literacy in English, how to use, write and create with, and repair computers, and finally writing thoughtful posts and taking photos-videos about their lives on the Nari Jibon blogs in English and Bangla. These girls & women are doing all these activities in an affordable, safe, secure, caring environment at Nari Jibon in classes and the women-only cyber cafe!

The joys of receiving emails, photos, videos, and blog posts from Nari Jibon students and staff who come from a country stereotyped as poor and uneducated in computer technology.

The joys of seeing older women write their first letters, words, and stories in Bangla and for young women to show me how they can use different fonts on the computer.

Also the caring female and male staff who make this possible and the daughters and sons who come to the Nari Jibon with their sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and male guardians: brothers, uncles, fathers, and husbands.

I would rather write about these activities, blog posts, and grants to fund this project, my stories and experiences in Bangladesh and elsewhere, my flowers, and of course, my kittens.

Why write so much on violence against women?

I write because:

  • a social litmus test for societies is how they treat women and children
  • until all women are safe, no women are safe (as well as the rest of their society)
  • all of us come from women: mothers, grandmothers and we also have aunts, sisters, daughters, and female relatives
  • 1/3 women in their lifetime will experience some form of violence-abuse
  • nothing justifies such violence against women, children, and men—not assorted rationalizations, misinformation--nothing
  • domestic violence is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality

What to do?

In recent posts on this blog, I have given links to websites on resources and groups that challenge violence and can provide support in USA and Bangladesh. I have given information on some recent and not so recent cases of domestic violence and violence against Bangladeshi women, petitions about these cases, and places-gatherings for more information. Finally, I have encouraged everyone to educate themselves about resources, discuss these issues with friends, family, classmates, and colleagues before, during, and even after marriage, and to provide support (funds, volunteer, donate) to groups that do the hard work and advocacy to end violence against women.

In the words of Audre Lorde (African American poet, writer, teacher, & activist), “your silence will not protect you”:

"I have come to believe over and over again, that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.... My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.... and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us. The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken."
Audre Lorde (The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action, Sister Outsider

Let's start speaking up!

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